Friday, October 28, 2011

On the Broomstick: Interview with Gretchen McNeil Author of Possess + Giveaway

1. How did you come to write about possession?

I’ve always been fascinated by the concept of exorcism and demonic possession, and by the fact that the Catholic Church is the only western religion with a codified exorcism ritual.  Pope Benedict the XVI even issued an edict instructing all archdioceses around the world to send one priest to the Vatican for official exorcist training.  How freaky is that?

Basically, my original idea was to write a scary book.  Borderline horror of the hopefully page-turner variety.  And when I started to think about what really scared me, demonic possession was at the top of the list.  I started doing so research, mostly first-hand accounts of exorcism and possession, and was totally hooked.  The rest just sort of grew from there!

2. Have you seen The Exorcist? What impression did it leave on you?

Scariest movie of all time.  Hands down.

3. What are some authors that have influenced your writing?

Warning: this is an eclectic list.  Agatha Christie, Anthony Bourdain, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Louisa Mae Alcott, John Buchan, Ambrose Bierce, Robert Louis Stevenson, John Bellairs and Susan Cooper.

4. What is your writing day like? You work another does the balance angle work?

It's a tough balance.  I have a full time job so writing is something I do at night.  I usually write in bed, and depending on deadlines, I spend 2-3 hours per night writing, less if I've been able to spend some time during the day plotting out the night's writing.

5. Do you like to structure your story before you write it or just let it flow by the seat of your pants?

Both?  I generally do a pretty detailed outline of the first act of the novel, the setup and general impetus for the plot, then a very loose outline of acts two and three, just hitting the big climaxes.  That way, things can develop and change as I write (they always do) but at least I'm not wandering around in the wilderness without a map!

6. If you had a soundtrack for Possess, what would it be?

I DO have a soundtrack for POSSESS!  Behold: Bridget's iPod!

"The Fallen" by Franz Ferdinand
"Time to Pretend" by MGMT
"Kiss With A Fist" by Florence + the Machine
"Pumped Up Kicks" by Foster the People
"I Bet You Look Good on the Dance Floor" by Arctic Monkeys

"Hysteria" by Muse
"Bullet With Butterfly Wings" by Smashing Pumpkins
"Killing In The Name Of" by Rage Against the Machine

"The Cave" by Mumford & Sons
"Telephone" by Lady Gaga
"Somewhere Over the Rainbow" by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole

7. Will there be another to make it a series?

The sequel to POSSESS is tentatively scheduled for Fall 2013.

8. What is your next writing project?

I just finished revisions on my next project TEN, a stand alone horror novel about ten teens trapped on an island with a serial killer, scheduled for Fall 2012 also with Balzer + Bray.  I wanted to do something creepy and chilling, but without paranormal elements, kind of a throw back to Lois Duncan, Christopher Pike and the scary books that kept me awake at night when I was a teen!

9. Have you ever read Practical Magic or seen the movie? What did you think?

I love Practical Magic.  In fact, I love it so much that I used the house from that movie as the inspiration for White Rock House in TEN.

10. What is one thing you would want a reader to get from Possess?

I want the reading experience for POSSESS to be – as a few reviewers have said – "unputdownable."  Regardless of what you think of the story, the mystery, the characters or my writing, I wanted to write a fast-paced page turner, and I hope that's how people view it.

11. What is your most memorable Halloween experience?

About five years ago some friends and I put on a Halloween show, complete with readings of Poe, Bierce, La Fanu and Blackwood, a band, magic, a Dr. Frank-N-Furter pianist and a fake séance, all in a recreated Vaudeville theater.  It was pretty awesome.

Thanks so much Gretchen! What a great interview! Now for the awesome giveaway!


  1. What a terrific blog you have, Dana! Very creative. I agree that The Exorcist was the scariest movie ever. I look forward to reading your book. Exorcism is still "alive and well" and I would be interested to know how often it has been used by priests in the recent past. Thanks for sharing and Happy Halloween!

  2. Oh great interview this book really has me intrigued. Possession and ghosts really freak me out, but I love reading about it. This has been on my TBR list a while I should get to it soon.

    Xpresso Reads

  3. woohoo saw and entered this on zombie girl shambling - and here too - hope thats ok.

  4. I was looking for another post and came across this one WOOT. Thank you for the unexpected fun today.